Knowing what to upgrade can be tricky. Some equipment can last 30 years without a problem then fail on year 31. For a great deal of modernization projects only the controls and instrumentation are upgraded. Doing these minor upgrades to your facility enables you to have a more efficient, stable and secure plant.
Older controllers, when network enabled, can be vulnerable to today’s Cybersecurity threats. Upgrading to newer controllers will provide better access for monitoring of operations and remote support of equipment while also ensuring your facility is able to meet current ISA/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity standards. When upgrading the controller, it is the best time to evaluate if your facility is running as smooth and efficient as you want it to. If it is, then great, the program that has been operating your plant for the past 10+ years can be migrated into new hardware and the plant will continue to run as it always has. If you have had issues in the past with recurring bugs or a process that is not quite right, then this is the best time to look at getting the facility re-programmed. We can work with management and operations personnel to ensure the facility runs exactly how you would like. This step often includes work with alarm optimization, where we can help determine how you want to be notified and when. Under this same upgrade we work to improve the visualization of your facility. This is done by utilizing the ISA-101 standard, High performance graphics within HMI and SCADA screens. This style of graphics is more efficient, enabling operations personnel to quickly detect issues with the process, as well as get a quick update on equipment statuses.
The second most common modernization area is around the plant electrical. This includes adding power monitoring, upgrading starters, VFDs, lighting, HVAC, MCCs, etc. By switching from an across the line starter to a VFD or soft start, it reduces the peak power draw of a motor. This can reduce penalties from the electrical utility and increase the life of the motor. Intelligent motor starters and drives also allow for enhanced monitoring, where traditionally a PLC would only read the run status and fault, or overload from a starter, now with Ethernet enabled devices we can potentially read hundreds of data points for each motor, and monitor them over time. Aside from monitoring benefits, upgrading electrical distribution and MCC’s can prevent unscheduled downtime. Electrical equipment and their connections can erode and fail over time. This can be checked and maintained to an extent but is often overlooked. Old MCCs and panels can rust/ corrode, have lose connections, have compromised insulation. Even one loose wire can bring a plant down for hours if not found.
Modernizing your facility can help ensure everything operates smoothly and effectively, which means better up time and efficiency for your plant.